Davis's Career-High 31 Leads Princeton to First-Round CBI Win
Scoring a career-high 31 points, Davis helped lift the Princeton men's basketball team to a 95-86 win in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational Presented by Zebra Pen.
"We didn't want to end just yet," Davis said. "We wanted to get a win in the postseason and we did that. Now we want to keep this run going."
The Tigers' next opponent will be decided once Wednesday's five games in the CBI are complete. Princeton is paired with the Wofford/Pitt winner, but tournament organizers reserve the right to reshuffle the bracket.
"I've never been a part of a game like that, really," Mitch Henderson, the Franklin C. Cappon-Edward G. Green '40 head coach of Princeton men's basketball, said. "It might have had something to do with the way that both teams didn't have much time to prepare, but I think it has more to do with the way we're playing offensively, and Evansville is very difficult to guard."
Both teams learned of their postseason assignments late Sunday night. For Princeton, which is also in midterm exams this week, it meant flying to Indianapolis and busing three hours south to Evansville.
With the 31 points - the most for any Tiger in regulation since Judson Wallace '05 also had 31 in 2003 against Holy Cross - Davis raised his career total to 1,530, giving him a chance of passing Kit Mueller '91 at 1,546 for the second-most all-time in Princeton history.
"It's definitely elite company," Davis said. "I'm just glad I can share this with my teammates. They did a great job getting me the ball all four years. You put hard work in over the summer and to see it work out is great, but then when you have a great group of guys like this feeding you the ball, it's even better."
Davis went 9 for 11 from the field, 5 of 6 from 3-point range and 8 of 8 from the free-throw line.
Davis was one of four Tigers in double figures, along with junior Ian Hummer with 18, Patrick Saunders with 13 and Mack Darrow with 12.
Hummer's 18 points lifted him to 1,156 for his career - still 13th-most in program history - and to 501 on the season. His season total is the highest for any Princeton player in 40 years, is tied for the seventh-highest season total in program history and fourth-highest by anyone other than Bill Bradley '65.
Princeton scored the game's final eight points, the last six of which came from Davis at the line.
Davis's fellow senior, Saunders, said playing more basketball is better than the alternative.
"I'd be back home in New Hampshire for spring break if we didn't keep playing," Saunders said. "There's not much to do up there, so I wanted to keep playing and stay with my guys."
Both avoided having to hang up their jerseys for the last time.
"Before the game, it's hard to keep it out of your head that you could be going through it for the last time," Saunders said. "It gives you a little extra juice when you get tired."
"With under a minute left, it's like, this could be the last minute of my college career," Davis added. "It was going through my head, definitely."
Princeton's 95 points were its most in regulation against a Division I opponent since Feb. 11, 1995 when Princeton beat Cornell 95-69 in Jadwin Gym.
"To have a game where we score 95 points I think really shows that our offense works," Hummer said. "It was tough for Evansville, a team that hasn't seen us very much, and I think we capitalized on just running our offense. Our defense kind of struggled, but we came out with the win, so we can't complain."
The lead changed 27 times and the game was tied 15 times, and neither team led by more than seven until the game-ending parade to the free-throw line. The Tigers took an early 14-7 lead less than five minutes into the game but saw Evansville go on a 12-4 run to retake the lead.
The Aces led by as much as six at 41-35 with less than four minutes to go in the first half, but Princeton went on a 9-0 run to take the lead back.
Evansville's last lead of more than one possession came when it was up 60-55 before the first media timeout of the second half, and Princeton made the game the first of its season that was decided in regulation with the team that reached 60 first not getting the win.